In most of the Indian recipes for dish items, we do heat up the pan with some oil, put some mustard seeds, cumin seeds, etc., and let them pop. What is the process called in English?

In the Telugu language, we call it "Thaalimpu", as shown in this video. The ingredients are shown at 00:24, and the process is from 00:30 to 1:51.

  • 4
    Welcome to EL&U. If you are looking for the culinary term, you may be better served asking at our sister site for cooking aficionados, Seasoned Advice. In casual usage, heating grains in oil until they pop is known simply as popping; using pressurized air or steam would be puffing.
    – choster
    Dec 23, 2016 at 18:10
  • In general, adding anything to hot oil is called "frying". If you are trying to explain to a native English speaker, use "frying" and then explain for how long, and for how hot. "Heat the pan and oil, add seeds, and fry until they begin to pop (around X minutes)"
    – John Feltz
    Dec 23, 2016 at 18:45
  • This website translates 'popu/talimpu' as 'seasoning', but seasoning in English cuisine means little more than adding salt and ground pepper. I would call it 'mixed spices'.
    – Mick
    Dec 23, 2016 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


From Telugu to English Dictionary :

tAliMpu n. tamper; seasoning prepared by frying in oil a concoction of spices; the idea is to "hit" the cooked stuff with pungent mixture to bring out the taste (lit.) a hit; a smack; a spank

I think the dictionary means "temper" instead of "tamper".

In other words, "Thaalimpu Annam" translates as "tempered rice".

Several websites say:








I didn't find any entries for this in Merriam-Webster but I've watched enough cooking shows to know that:

Blooming spices, or gently frying them in oil, is a quick way to deepen their flavor. Try it with whole spices or ground—cumin, coriander, and fennel are favorites. Cook just until the spices smell nice and toasty; any longer and you risk burning them.


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